Designing a website isn’t just about creating something that looks good. It is about producing a site that potential customers and current clients are able to use easily and effectively. This means that they should be able to load pages quickly, they should be able to move throughout the site easily and they should be able to find what they are looking for without too much difficulty.
User Friendly is the term you need to consider before you even start
Intellicore have produced an infographic which highlights the main issues to ponder, but I’m going to explain the why’s and when’s in some more detail to give you bit more background.
Can’t I just create my own site?
I’m sure you have seen many an advert for step-by-step instructions to building your own site. This is not me dissing any of them. If you are just starting out, your business is small and you are struggling to find the funds for a professionally designed website, a build it yourself website is a great way to start.
If, however, you are considering a total revamp, then read carefully.
What you need for an Awesome Website
Using a Designer
I can guarantee that most people out there have at least a basic notion of what they want their site to look like, but a designer may have other ideas. This is not to say that your thoughts are unimportant, but creative people like to follow through with their concepts.
If you’ve shared your ideas with a designer and they have come back to you with something off the charts different, tell them. Ask them to explain why it’s so different from what you discussed; there may be a functional, practical reason. Work together to produce something you both like. It is your site after all.
Using a Developer
This is where it gets nice and technical. Websites are far more than just a pretty home page. Superbly written code makes a site function exactly how you want it to. Only skilled web designers can write the exact code required to make the site perfectly user friendly.
This can relate to speed optimisation for page launching, HTML 5 for sliders, fading and quirky animation and interaction to name a few. Having a designer and developer working congruently will only have a positive effect on your finished product.
Making you Site Optimised for Search Engines
Although this idea has been bandied about for what seems like an eternity, not prepping your site for Google or Bing or any other search engine would be neglect on a detrimental scale.
It is definitely not all about SEO, but it is not something that should be ignored. To promote this your site should be accessible for every user. Which means that no matter where they are or what device they are using your site should be available, readable and responsive.
You don’t want people to miss out on valuable content because they couldn’t get your site to load. Content is unbelievably important – think about quality, volume and type. You don’t have to write reams and reams of written text, but thousands of photographs isn’t going to do you any favours either.
Every page of your site should consist of relevant content, most likely a mixture of types – photographs and copy for example. This content should be original, grammatically correct and updated regularly.
These regular updates should related to your social media platforms as well. Having widgets on your website is a great way to get people interacting with you. You want your clients and potential customers to know you are a person, not just a business. Consequently marketing yourself online is extremely beneficial.
For your site to be able to function in this way brings us back to that fantastic designer and developer again. They have insider knowledge about what makes a website work; what helps gain visitors, what helps interaction and what makes people come back. Listen to their advice and think about how it will work for you.
When to Launch your Site
Before your site goes live you should always test all functions to make sure it is working exactly how it is supposed to. This includes availability and loading on multiple devices; mobiles, tablets, pcs etc., responsive functionality of each page, any links on your site to alternative pages, loading speed and as many other aspects as you can think of.
Only when you, your designer and your developer are completely satisfied with every facet of your site should you consider launching it to the world.
This is an auspicious occasion and should be treated as such. You have come far and have achieved a lot.
It doesn’t end there.
Things are changing rapidly in the world of websites. Let us not forget the never ending Google nature updates which can affect your marketing and SEO strategies, but you also have to consider the evolution of technology and how that may change in the future.
That is why most designers and developers offer tailored support packages or Content Management Systems (CMS) once your website is live. CMS is an application designed to help non-technical users add, edit and manage their own website as and when required.
So if you want to get a whole new website or if you just wish to tailor the old one, do consider the factors involved. Get the design how you want it and people will love just looking at your site, get the code spot on and people will find it so easy to use they will be back time and time again.
Get your site optimised for Search Engines and not only will people be able to find your site online, they will be able to interact with you, thus building great relationships. And finally manage your site and adapt to the changes so that you are ready for whatever the future has to offer.